Many people aspire to a seat at the board table, either as a company director or head of department, but the path to the top table can feel long, winding and sometimes out of reach. There’s also a Catch-22 situation of not being able to be promoted without showing certain skills, but not being able to master or even know what those skills are without first doing the job.
It’s all about skills and competencies
Traditionally, members of the C-suite would be able to draw upon years of experience in the business world, allowing them to face, assess and form solutions to problems and situations more effectively. What we’ve learned about leadership and management in recent years, however, is that the difference between an effective executive and somebody who’s simply worked in a particular field for a long time is how experiences are used to inform a leadership style and skillset.
We see chief executive, financial, marketing and information officers not only changing companies frequently, but also entire industries. Becoming a leader is partly about making a conscious decision to take control of your own development and directing it towards encouraging, engaging and setting an example for others, to more successfully achieve company goals.
The skills you need
One of the vital skills for a business leader is the ability to identify and prioritise problems, protecting the company by ensuring that small glitches don’t become major issues. This goes hand-in-hand with being able to collaborate, think creatively and critically assess potential solutions, meaning that you navigate towards the best-case scenario that benefits the whole of the company. Sometimes solutions benefit one department more than another and the ability to work alongside and formulate a plan that leaves nobody behind is incredibly beneficial.
This underlines that top leadership needs effective communication. The ability to not only accurately explain complicated situations, but listen to critiques, take on board feedback and use it to determine the right course of action is highly desirable in almost any company – particularly in situations where others may have more knowledge about a certain process or area. Understanding how to deal with people and how to take control of challenging developments are also core to what businesses expect of their C-suite.
Proving your skills before you get the job
The difficulty for many people, however, is that even once they’ve identified the types of capabilities that companies need, they struggle to prove them in a professional setting. An excellent way to do this is with a professional postgraduate qualification- the University of York offer online MSc in Leadership and Management to enable working professionals to do just that.
With three disciplines to choose from, you earn a prestigious Russell Group Masters degree from learning delivered 100% online. This means that there’s no need to attend campus, so you can retain your current role and salary and don’t need to lose out financially by taking an extended study break. The course can be paid for on a pay-per-module basis, so you needn’t save a large sum to pay for up-front costs, and there are six start dates per year, allowing you to begin almost as soon as you like. Best of all, not only can you earn while you learn, but you can use the skills in your current role and begin to display the kind of abilities that could open up the door to the C-suite.